The three major U.S. stock indexes opened mixed this morning, taking until mid-morning to rise above the flat line and stay above it for the rest of the day. The initial response to Bank of Japan’s added $125 billion in asset purchase rallied Asian markets, but reality eventually settled in, at least in Europe, where the BoJ’s move was pretty much ignored. Data on existing home sales put some life into the market (more coverage here), but a sharp spike in crude oil inventories hammered the energy sector (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index fell today, now down 0.24% at 79.057. The GSCI commodity index is down 1.3% at 670.13, with commodities prices higher today on the weaker greenback. WTI crude oil closed down 3.5% today, at $91.98 a barrel. Brent crude trades down 3.5% at $108.07 a barrel. Natural gas is up 0.1% today to $2.775 per thousand cubic feet. Gold closed at $1,771.70 an ounce, up less than 0.1% for the day on the BoJ’s asset buying announcement.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 13 points to 13,577.96 (0.10%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 5 points (0.15%) to 3,182.62, and the S&P 500 rose 0.12% or nearly 2 points to 1,461.05.
There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) raised to ‘Conviction Buy List’ at Goldman Sachs; Waste Management Inc. (NYSE: WM) cut to ‘underperform’ at JPMorgan; Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) cut to ‘market perform’ at Wells Fargo; Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACHN) raised to ‘buy’ with a target price of $13 at BofA/ML; and Clean Fuels Energy Corp. (NASDAQ: CLNE) started as ‘hold’ at KeyBanc.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night have affected several stocks, including Autozone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) up 3.3% at $369.49 (more coverage here); Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. (NASDAQ: CBRL) up 6.8% at $67.95 after posting a new 52-week high of $69.30 earlier today; and General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) up 2.1% at $40.12 (more coverage here).
After markets close today and before they re-open in the morning we are scheduled to hear from Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE), Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY), ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG), Jefferies Group Inc. (NYSE: JEF), and Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOR) is down 45% at $27.80 after posting a new 52-week low of $22.29 earlier today. The drugmaker’s treatment for multiple sclerosis will no longer be accepted for payment by Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET). More coverage here.
PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE: PHM) is up 4.4% at $16.45 after posting a new 52-week high of $ 16.90 earlier in the day. The homebuilder is rising on today’s good report on new home starts. More coverage here.
Stay tuned for Thursday. Boston Fed president Eric Rosengren, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota, Cleveland Fed president Sandra Pianalto, and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard are giving speeches. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
- 9:00 a.m. – Flash PMI manufacturing index
- 10:00 a.m. – Philadelphia Fed survey
- 10:00 a.m. – Leading economic indicators
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
- 1:00 p.m. – 10-year TIPS auction
- 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply